Joy Behar of "The View" falsely claimed Wednesday that Republicans maintained control–and even gained seats–in the Senate this election cycle because of gerrymandering, a process that impacts congressional districts.
ABC’s Matt Dowd had to reply that the Republican Party's ability to control of the Senate while obtaining less votes in the national popular vote was not a result of gerrymandering. "That’s the Constitution," he said.
Behar's remark came in response to Dowd remarking that popular support for Democrats was outpacing Democratic gains. He noted President Donald Trump won the electoral college in 2016 but lost the popular vote. Likewise, Democrats received 8 million more votes than Republicans between the various Senate races last night, but still lost seats.
While Behar blamed a Democratic minority on gerrymandering, the process has nothing to do with the election or distribution of senators. Gerrymandering is the manner in which congressional districts are drawn to favor one political party or candidate. Senators are elected at the state level, so state lines determine electors, not congressional districts.
Behar is hardly the latest public figure in need of a civics refresher. MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote on Rachel Maddow’s blog that the "House ‘popular vote’ gives Democrats something to brag about." Salon’s Amanda Marcotte pointed to the results as proof the United States is not a democracy. (The Federalist Papers No. 10, written by James Madison, agrees in that the United States was not structured to be a "direct democracy.")
I don't think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority.
After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) November 5, 2018
There won't be free and fair elections in the United States until the Senate is abolished.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) November 6, 2018
Republicans lost the popular vote in Senate races by over 15 percentage points, but still gained two seats. https://t.co/TFVdDGIiat
Our country is not a democracy.
— Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) November 7, 2018
Democrats have a 12-point lead in the overall popular vote for the Senate and have lost three seats.
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) November 7, 2018
Behar’s error aside, Dowd’s original comment was misleading in its own right.
Democrats did not "lose" the Senate races last night. There were 35 Senate seats up for election, and Democrats won the majority of them. Only one third of the Senate’s 100 seats are up for election any election year, so the "popular vote" any given election does not reflect national sentiment. Moreover, some states did not even have a Republican on the ballot. California, for example, had two Democrats running against each other, so votes cast against either Democrat would count towards Dowd's Democratic "popular vote."